Don't be fooled into buying sister sizes (left/middle), which won't give as much support as your actual size (right).[1]

How-to shop for bras effectively is not as easy as it may appear. To ensure purchase of the best-fitting bra, there are a series of tests and techniques which are not obvious to the casual shopper, including how one is fitted, how a bra is constructed, and even how one puts on the bra.

How to find a good fitter

A good fitter is very important. Find an offline retailer near you.

What to look for in a supportive bra


These bras by Curvy Kate illustrate different seam-styles: vertical seams on the left and diagonal seams on the right.

There are several features which can help identify a supportive bra.

In a maximally supportive cup, there will be seams. Seams running either vertically or diagonally provide increasing support for larger, heavier breasts, with diagonal seams considered the most supportive.[2] And with advances in production technology, seams now provide an excellent, natural-appearing shape, meaning aesthetics do not necessarily need to be sacrified for function.
Well-joined back straps
The best bras for larger busts have back straps which are not simply "tacked on" to the band, but continue along the band all the way to the closure.[3] This type of strap join is called a leotard strap, and helps distribute the weight of the breasts throughout all regions of the band.
Snug-fitting band
The importance of a snugly-fitting band cannot be emphasized enough, as the band is where the most support comes from. Sister sizes may do in a pinch, but for complete support, the proper-fitting bra is unmatched.

Putting on the bra correctly

Main article: How-to put on a bra

There are a few specific measures to take when trying on new bras to determine fit.

  1. Fasten the closure on the loosest hook-set possible. As a bra ages, the band will stretch; this long-term loss of elasticity is compensated for by progressively fastening the hooks on tighter and tighter settings. Thus, when trying on a new bra, assume zero stretch and fasten it as loose as possible.
  2. Adjust the shoulder straps using the sliders, paying attention to the fit of the cups. If the cups do not seem tight enough, tighten the straps; if the cups seem constrictive, loosen the straps.
  3. Use the "scoop and swoop." One cannot determine the fit of a bra until one is wearing it correctly. Thus, make sure to scoop all breast tissue, including migrated breast tissue, into the cups of the bra before judging its fit.
  4. Even after scooping all breast tissue, some may "muffin-top" out the top of the cup. This occurs even in well-fitting bras; unfortunately, breast tissue won't automatically position itself within a bra. Gently try smoothing this tissue back into the cup. If all the tissue goes within the cup without displacing breast tissue out the back and sides again, then this cup fits. If a considerable amount of breast tissue will not fit into the cup no matter how hard you try, then this bra may not be the right one.
  5. After this, all that remains is to determine goodness of fit.

Other tips

  • Wear a fitted, lower-necked shirt when trying on bras to get a better idea of how the bra fits. A shirt with a high collar or a loose fit obscures the overall fit.
  • When purchasing a strapless bra, look for a "grip strip" along the band--a stretch of rubbery or latex material which will help the band stay in place on your body. And since there are no shoulder straps to keep the cups in place, a larger cup may be required to prevent the cups from "folding" into the breast. (This is largely dependent on breast shape.)

See also


  1. Thin and Curvy: "Where to find 26 and 24 band bras, and a review of Ewa Michalak/Effuniak"
  2. The Gleaner: "Find The Cup That Fits"
  3. The Lingerie Addict: "What Should Busty Ladies Look for in a Bra?"
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